Christopher Reeves

Anti-vaxxers start coughing on Kansas legislators they disagree with

Kansas House and Senate Republicans today introduced legislation that demands that the state reject any vaccine mandate, saying that individuals cannot be fired, and if they are fired they are allowed to receive back pay, as well as potential fines that can go to the state of Kansas.

The legislation is a series of mandates on employers telling them they must recognize religious or moral exemptions, but the employer is not allowed to ask if the employee actually has a real religious belief or not. Republican Sen. John Doll asked how far this policy goes:

Republicans asking about the exemptions from other Republicans? Even they don't understand what is going on.

Republicans now face a divide. Several companies, especially those receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding—long-term care facilities, mostly—would struggle. The legislation would fine noncompliant businesses up to $50,000 per day, but losing federal funds for noncompliance might bankrupt them.

This exact problem has led to the Kansas Chamber of Commerce chiming in that the legislation as proposed has problems.

If you can't get your way? Just start coughing on people and yell out. Because that is how we get things done.

Well, as the day goes on, Republicans start debating other conspiracies. You know, let's talk about JFK's assassination.

Florida's board of education destroyed opportunities for disabled students in just 6 minutes

Just when you think the state of Florida can't possibly do more harm to their own residents, we find that new rules instituted for this school year—rules that took all of six minutes to pass—are wrecking the lives and opportunities of students with severe disabilities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis took up a considerable amount of time this summer demanding changes to educational tools to stop teaching about racism. The governor contended that legislators know better, and therefore, stopping critical race theory—a subject educators aren't teaching at these levels, though they do teach history—was of high priority. What wasn't a priority in the state board of education meeting was special need students. After a lengthy debate on critical race theory, it took only six minutes, with only one public speaker, to permanently change the way disability education works in Florida, an act that disability advocates believe was as harmful as stripping people of access to their wheelchairs.

The policy Florida enacted can only be summarized in one word: cruel. Florida faced a problem where just over 1% of their students fell into the category of special education, which is a cap that the federal government has set under the Every Student Succeeds Act. So how do you fix this problem?

DeSantis and Florida's board of education had an idea: Kick the students out of special education, make them get IQ tests, and then see if after two grading periods they can succeed in mainstream education.

Matthew Cooley was a student with most of the common problems that come with autism. Like most parents of autistic children (myself included), we know how beautiful and thoughtful our own children can be, and that they can accomplish great things if given a chance. What is needed will be a different kind of opportunity for what comes next after education. Instead of being offered that chance to start sooner, Cooley found that under the new Florida policy, he would have to be mainstreamed for two grading periods before he could go back into special education.

Children with autism who are mainstreamed often suffer bullying and an erosion of confidence in their own ability to succeed. They don't move forward—they regress instead.

Six minutes was all it took to change the lives of families across Florida. Six minutes to demand IQ tests and the humiliation of putting a child through a test designed to prove to them that they are "less than." Six minutes to think about subjecting students to bullying. Six minutes to deprive classrooms of students of fair and free access to a public education—unless the goal is to mainstream students to drive more wealthy families to go to private schools. Six minutes to take away months of learning you can't get back.

Students ask for our love, our care, and our compassion. Six minutes was all the time they were afforded. Don't worry: Fighting back against masks or teaching the history of racism? I'm sure days and days were spent on those matters.

Republicans are rooting against America. That perfectly sums up their party right now

Sports are something that can draw in fans and make rivalries. You can be a fan of one team, and root against another. They were professionals being paid significant sums of money — even in my youth — and rooting for the game was entertaining. US Olympians were in that rarified air of representing America. They were the best at what they did and ambassadors of our country. Carl Lewis. Jumping up and down waiting as Florence Griffith Joyner came down the line to break records in track, a record that stood until a few days ago. There were letdowns. Moments where the US effort fell short. There would always be heartbreak at some athlete who gave supreme effort and just found they were outmatched by their competition. A few moments, like Lochte-gate made me grit my teeth.

One thing I never found myself doing, really, was rooting with absolute glee against America. Last night, after a 1-0 loss to Canada, the US Women's Soccer Team was eliminated from gold medal contention. The way in which Republicans celebrate shows exactly the problem we face: a group of people with absolutely no accomplishments pointing and giggling in glee for sheer spite and disagreement over their rights.

The content is never-ending on Twitter, and not worth my time to go down that rabbit hole, but this comment is representative of the Republican urge to root against America.

As Simone Biles withdrew herself from Olympic events citing twisties, too many also began bashing her. The reality of what she faced was real — and the injury could have been devestating. They simply didn't care.

The idea was something that stuck from the beginning.

In 1984, Mary Lou Retton won 2 bronze medals, and she was called "America's Sweetheart". People understood the level of dedication and work she put in.

Rooting for Americans to fail is where the Republican party is right now. They don't want to just have a disagreement, they want that disagreement to be one where they view it as damning and deserving of personal destruction and mockery. Who benefits from this, and what mentally drives this attitude?

I go back to thinking about the pro teams I followed, and the players I rooted for — even after they left my home town. Alex Smith was someone who was known in the Kansas City community for supporting good causes and working to help change social discussions. He made that more clear last year.

This was no surprise to anyone who knew about Smith's charitable giving and support for foster children and the community. When Smith was subject to one of the worst injuries in the NFL, a spiral fracture of his leg, both sides took to one knee, held hands, and rooted for him to be OK. Whether they were a fan of his team or rooting against them did not matter. We are a nation built on kindness, caring, and concern.

Rooting against America and our freedoms including freedom of expression? Schadenfreude for America? Miss me with all of that.

Laura Ingraham learns some rights are not in the Constitution

There are many great stories about the constitution, our amendments, and the rights that come from these documents and the laws of our country. Through good and bad, we have had an open debate on how we become a better nation. Our preamble states: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Not a place where we are a perfect union already, but the goal of forming a more perfect one—a government that improves every day. Throughout the constitution, rights are established and detailed, and through amendments, those rights have been expanded.

I may not be a Harvard-educated attorney—admittedly, neither is Laura Ingraham—but I can look through the constitution and realize that certain "rights" never appear. There is no right to infect someone else with a deadly disease. That isn't a right you have. I don't see a right you have to board an air flight and contaminate others, either. There are no rights to poison the environment or commit acts of violence against the government—in fact, I think that last one may have specific clauses which have been interpreted against that point—but listening to Fox News conservatives, you would think all of these items were protected by the constitution. They rely on saying this because, I suppose, many of their audience has never actually read the constitution, or maybe they don't understand it.

Republicans for quite some time have gone out of their way to explain rights that you have—but these are rights that appear absolutely nowhere in the U.S. Constitution.

Alan Dershowitz has long switched to making ridiculous commentary and I generally put no stock in his efforts. Even this media attention seeker, however, can recognize the fact that Fox personalities clearly don't understand what rights you actually have.

Damn, I hate it when someone I dislike makes a point I agree with at times. This truth is so obvious, however, that the fact Laura Ingraham doesn't understand it is not just baffling, but proof of intent to whip up an audience to a fury over a point with no merit. It would be like me arguing I have every right to bring a child infected with chickenpox to your house today because exposure is good for them, I've decided that, and you just have to tough it out.

Sorry, the constitution doesn't give me that right. You can swing a baseball bat all you want, Laura, but the moment you swing it at my body, you've lost your right to swing the bat because you are using it to take away my rights.

Republicans hate this word — but it's the truth

During Donald J. Trump's impeachment trial, Rep. Jamie Raskin made a clear case about what had happened under Donald J. Trump's presidency. The acts Trump condoned on Jan. 6 were the acts of traitors. They were calling for the violent overthrow of the government. They refused the results of an election. They denied reality, and they attacked fellow Americans.

The phrase the insurrectionists yelled at police officers indicated the police were traitors. The police, though, made no move to overthrow the government. They did not attack or attempt to harm others. They did not work to intimidate the election process. They stood in defense of their country.

This is the defense of the United States government. How would it feel knowing you have family at home, that you have represented your nation for years, and that every day you put your life at risk to protect the people, not a party? The officers knew the mob could go inside the building and that the staffers therein didn't have clear signs over their heads that read "Republican" or "Democrat"—these young individuals' lives were at risk. Even elected officials don't wear giant billboards reading "Republican" and "Democrat," and unless they're your representative, you might not know who they are, which means they were also at risk. The officers put their lives on the line. They did so against traitors. Traitors. Traitors. Raw Story posted video of Marjorie Taylor Greene talking about where the traitors are, including in Congress, and her fear of penalties.

She also says something that I firmly believe in and lecture about: that so much power is in the hands of voters. What she doesn't say is that it's this power Republicans are scared of, and it's exactly why the Republicans are engaged in a massive plan to suppress votes. Greene begins this video talking about local elections, and I urge every single Democrat who reads this site to start paying attention. Your city council or county officer can help put polling places in locations that are more friendly or more intimidating to voters.

The committee that begins today boils down to one word: traitors. The Jan. 6 rioters are traitors. Those who want to deny American voters the right to vote are traitors against our beliefs. When you spend your time working against the pillars of our nation, there is only one word for that: traitor.

Republican speechwriter slammed for promoting alternate history to criticize critical race theory

Remember this guy? In the stream of the QAnon loving Republicans today, you'd think they have just forgotten him. He denounced Trump (far too late), and got onboard with vaccines (too soon for the Qanon conspirators). If you want to know a lot about where the Republican party is right now, take a look at the people who go to work in the Republican infrastructure. They know what the base wants, and they will say whatever it takes to continue to be relevant. Enter Ned Ryun, former Bush speechwriter, son of Kansas congressman Jim Ryun, who was defeated by Democratic candidate Nancy Boyda in a bit of an upset, and now, a ridiculous puppet for outright bonkers ideas.

Too bad he isn't here to answer that, right Ned? Care to answer how that came about? The response to Ned's comments highlights exactly the problem.

Others join in:

Even I couldn't resist a response.

Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King delivers the knockout blow:

It is a terrible thing, Ned when you forget that this is recent history and there are still people alive who remember what happened. It may be before me, but it wasn't before my parents — and that should tell you there are a whole lot of Americans alive who were here, and would wildly disagree with your weird 100% take.

Brian Williams roasts Matt Gaetz in hilarious comparison

We all have to deal with them. Some member of our extended family, or a co-worker, or someone we at a store who is just so incredibly wrong that at a certain point you want to throw up your hands and say, "Really? Really?" Enter Matt Gaetz. After testimony yesterday, Gaetz decided to go on the attack. Boy, did it go badly for him:

The response? Well, let's say a retired general had a few choice words:

It was Brian Williams on MSNBC who took the information and finally went in for the kill.

Brian Williams: "To be fair, Gaetz—the same Matt Gaetz who faces sexual trafficking charges he denies—did also tweet today to Free Britney Spears, which kind of makes him a freedom fighter."

Mic drop.

Pro-Trump 'Redneck Rave' descends into chaos as mass arrests follow weekend of throat slashing and strangulation

If you were to ask me how I wanted to spend my week, I can think of few things I would enjoy less than spending it among people who tried to sell the former guy a "campaign theme song" and spend a lot of time celebrating the idea of mixing "mudding" (which is actually somewhat enjoyable) with drunk driving, combined with assaulting women and maybe slashing a throat here and there. If you ask me, that sounds far more like the plot in a horror movie than anything I want to join in on. But in Kentucky's Blue Holler Offroad Park, that's exactly the kind of action attendees were welcome to enjoy. Welcome home, Mitch McConnell!

What more could you ask for, reallly? There are certainly attendees who were not on a Biden-hating bring-back-the-confederacy tilt, but a quick search of Facebook and YouTube turned up mostly images of vehicles with Confederate flags, pro-Trump memorabilia, or anti-Biden and anti-Harris statements. Well, hey, if you're going to roll around in the mud, I guess you might as well show who you are, really. The details are grizzly.

From The Daily Beast:

By the end of the five-day bash, dubbed the "Redneck Rave," one man had been impaled, one woman had been strangled to the point of unconsciousness, and one throat had been slit. In all, Edmonson authorities arrested 14 people, and charged four dozen people from five states.

Oh my! I really want that! That sounds so entertaining! The opportunity to listen to terrible music, get yelled at by drunks, and then impaled. Awesome.

Yahoo News goes into depth:

A five-day party in Kentucky ended in 14 arrests and 48 people charged with drug and alcohol, traffic, and assault-related offenses over their participation in what was billed as an occasion of "mud, music, and mayhem."
Numerous others were cited by police, and some were injured after partygoers descended on Blue Holler Offroad Park in Edmonson County from June 16-20 for the "Redneck Rave," an event that reportedly was held twice last year and during which one person died.

"The first vehicle that came through, we found meth, marijuana, and an open alcohol container," Sheriff Shane Doyle, who set up checkpoints in anticipation of trouble, said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. "And then one of the occupants had two active warrants ... We were like, 'Well, this doesn't bode well for the weekend.'"

Doesn't bode well for the weekend? Just the weekend? I worry it doesn't bode well for the hometowns where the attendees will be returning if they aren't still locked up or in recovery programs.

I guess only one sentiment sums up my reaction:

Here are the damaging policies Betsy Devos left behind

George W. Bush promised he would change American education with the No Child Left Behind Act. There are certainly significant problems with a system geared toward "teaching the test," as national educators pointed out from the beginning. Betsy DeVos, the former school board member and national vouchers advocate, had her opportunity to usher in new changes to national education policy. As you can imagine, many of them were devastating to the communities who seek opportunity through education.

One of those moments came about with changes in disciplinary guidance offered to states in order to change outcomes for students. DeVos used her office to build policy based on questionable research. As a result of these changes removing restorative justice, discipline, and opportunity, disabled students and students of color suffered. The Biden administration is asking for some feedback about what to do about these DeVos changes. The answer is simple: They have to go.

In making decisions about how to handle in-school discipline, DeVos turned to John Paul Wright, a professor at the University of Cincinnati. From US News:

"Themes of injustice, oppression, disparity, marginalization, economic and social justice, racial discrimination, and state-sanctioned violence dominate criminological teaching and scholarship," he wrote in 2017. "When it comes to disciplinary biases, however, none is so strong or as corrupting as liberal views on race."

Wright is credited with reigniting interest in using genetics and biology to explain criminal behavior and has written at length about the pushback he gets for it.

"Those who pursue this line of research get branded as racists or even eugenicists," Wright wrote. "We have personally experienced hostile receptions when presenting our work in these areas at professional conferences and have been excoriated in the anonymous-review process when attempting to publish our papers."

Wright starts with an interesting point: Students who come from disadvantaged homes are more likely to have issues, but he fails to address in any way whether or not interference by the school could help mitigate those problems or worsen them. Moreso, when it comes to issues had by disabled students, Wright makes no real assessment at all. In sweeping changes, though, DeVos just moved ahead on policy changes and pushed them out nationally.

From Disability Scoop:

The most recent federal data — from the 2017-2018 school year — indicates that students with disabilities accounted for a quarter of those who were suspended and 15% of expulsions even though they represent just 13% of all students.
Similarly, 38% of students who were suspended were Black though they account for only 15% of enrollment across the country.

The impact of these changes will be far-reaching, with students pulled away from educational opportunities, and disabled students given less of a chance to succeed. The part Betsy didn't want you to know is contained in this paragraph in American Progress:

Many of the state voucher programs, particularly those that target students with disabilities, require parents or guardians to sign away their rights under the IDEA and 504, and sometimes the ADA. Other states are silent on whether participating private schools have to meet federal requirements.26 Under the Succeed Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities in Arkansas, for example, parents must "sign waivers that release the State of Arkansas and the student's resident school district from any legal obligation to provide services or education to the student participating in the Program" and "sign an acknowledgement that, by enrolling a child in a private school, the parent/guardian, acting on behalf of the child, waives the procedural safeguards granted by the IDEA."27 In Georgia's Special Needs Scholarship Program, accepting a voucher has the same legal effect as refusing special education services.28

Now, the Biden administration is asking for your feedback. DeVos took away 72 guidelines for schools. There is an opportunity here for us to make positive changes nationally. Prepared to submit a formal comment and bring back some sanity back to public schools? Leaving the Trump administration's damaging policies behind is a great place to start.

You can leave your feedback at this link.

Joe Manchin shows us why the tyranny of the Senate continues

Nowhere near the beginning, the Filibuster was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and has been widely regarded as a bad move. Pardon my theft, Mr. Adams, Douglas not either president Adams. You see, despite Manchin's ridiculous editorial issued today, neither John Adams or his son were ever around to see an actual filibuster. Due to a rules change originally suggested by Aaron Burr, you know, the Vice President who murdered Alexander Hamilton in a duel, the first time the filibuster ever came up was in 1837. The rules were revised several times, with Mitch McConnell revising them several times.

Senator Manchin's editorial is full of hand wringing and false equivalencies. There is one truth that is universal, understood in every single language and does not change. Numbers. When the constitution was first ratified, the founders did not write a perfect document — and they knew it and opened it up for amendments, of which there have been 27 ratified. What didn't happen from the beginning was the ability of the founders to see how a filibuster would be used to derail governing. What they might have envisioned, however, came out of the 3/5 compromise, a mathematical agreement meant to give white southern states that held slaves a seat at the table while ignoring the problem of slavery.

The US Senate, today, has become an undemocratic dividing line where senators representing lower population states are dismantling democracy in favor of representing only the few. Welcome to the four house district club, Senator Manchin's West Virginia. Sending my regards from Kansas. And while your electoral vote count may go down thanks to that loss of a US House seat you still have exactly the same power you have always had in the US Senate — that is, West Virginia is the equal to New York, California, Michigan, Texas.

Because of this breakdown, a huge population of the United States is held hostage to the wills of those in states unreflective of the nation as a whole.

But what about Manchin's claims about the founder's belief? Apparently, he doesn't well understand what the founders themselves meant when they worded the document. From Princeton Legal Journal:

When considering the filibuster as a supermajority requirement for regular legislation, it is clearly unconstitutional.2 As a textual matter, the Constitution appoints the Vice President as the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, providing that they "shall have no Vote unless [the Senators] be equally divided." This provision implies that the Senate must pass regular legislation by a majority vote. The Framers of the Constitution, while concerned with tyranny of the majority, generally favored majority rule except for certain cases. In fact, the specification of supermajority requirements in the Senate elsewhere in the Constitution, like for the ratification of treaties, indicates that the Framers never envisioned a supermajority rule for regular legislation.1
The Framers, famously wary of tyranny of the majority, devised a system of governance to protect minority rights and promote deliberation without a filibuster. The Federalist Papers outline how checks and balances, federalism, and other structural mechanisms prevent abuses of power, suppression of minority interests, and rash government action. The Framers clearly feared tyrannical majorities and an overly powerful legislature. However, even they deemed a supermajority cloture requirement unnecessary, undermining the argument that the filibuster enhances the Senate's intended function.

Senator points out his "both sides" argument, but fails, frankly, to ever really offer any details. From his editorial:

It has been said by much wiser people than me that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Well, what I've seen during my time in Washington is that every party in power will always want to exercise absolute power, absolutely. Our founders were wise to see the temptation of absolute power and built in specific checks and balances to force compromise that serves to preserve our fragile democracy

I can think of several moments Republicans have tried — and succeeded — to move with absolute power. See, the US Supreme Court justice nomination process and three seats. Republicans have used similar measures to change the rules when needed.

Democratic elected? Not so much. In 2009, the Democratic elected struggled around the ACA, trying repeatedly to negotiate with Republicans. Again, with the current infrastructure bill, we keep going back to the table to negotiate. Republicans, when they had power over all three bodies did no such fair bargaining. While Senator Manchin talks about bipartisanship, Republicans have acted for quite a while as if they have never heard of it — in 2017, the Trump tax plan was negotiated between.. Republicans. Democratic feedback wasn't welcome or even really considered.

There is a simple problem with the West Virginian's solution of bipartisanship, and that is how you define it. I've spoken at a lot of meetings, and I always use this as an example. A husband and wife go to a marriage counselor. They are having a dispute. The husband has decided he wants to burn the house down. The wife is opposed, and says loudly: "How about we just burn down the garage?"

Either way, the house is destroyed.

Bipartisanship requires good faith results. You can't really negotiate in a way where your home is destroyed at the end of the talks.

With Republicans putting a stranglehold on low population red states they have developed a hard wall that guarantees them a large number of senators before they start.

Sorry, Senator, you can save your excuses for something else. If you really wanted HR4 instead, you have just handed Republicans exactly the tool they needed until midterms by telling them they can count on your vote to stop absolutely everything and anything that President Biden proposes. Good for you, bad for America.

Why does the tyranny of the senate continue? Because when given the opportunity to change it, the people who could help the situation sit on their hands; and those who benefit from the tyranny work harder and harder to prevent others from voting to change the situation.


Happy Holidays!